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Building a Team That Includes Everyone

In my many meetings with marketing managers of large corporations, the consensus has been that they love the benefits of interactive rich-media PDF eBrochures. "Astounding," they say. "All this inside a PDF file. Why have I not seen this before?" Now, because of my past experience in this situation, my reply will vary depending on who is in the room at the time. For example, I know the Web developers do not want to lose control of the Web site. And print publishers will be worried that their printing budgets will be cut.

The way I approach the situation is by introducing the rich-media PDF as a totally new form of media—a sort of Internet 2.0. I say it's a broadband experience targeted to people who have high-speed Internet connections. I say it's an opportunity to "converge" all their talents and reuse the content. "Don't stop making printed brochures," I say to the desktop publishers. "Just give us the files that you use to produce your brochures, and we will optimize them for Internet delivery. It will all be based on your design. Think of us as your service bureau." That sometimes works.

Webmasters are usually the toughest cookies to convince because they have the most to lose. To them I reply, "Those Flash animations on your site are wonderful. Did you know that all your forms, message boards, and booking engines that you create in Flash can be included right inside the PDF with a little bit of reconfiguration?" That statement usually causes their jaws to drop a bit as they ponder their futures. Will they be open to embracing the future, or will they attempt to kill it? Unfortunately, 99 percent of the time the Flash developers will attempt to kill the proposal. They will look for the weakness of the format and reply, "Not enough people have upgraded to Reader 8 or newer, which is what you need to view Flash rich media." And in many cases that is true, so it has become a waiting game for Flash inside PDF.

Until that day arrives when everyone has installed Reader 5 or newer, which is required to play QuickTime, I always advise the client to take baby steps and create two versions of PDF files: Standard, which runs in Reader 4, and Full, which runs in Reader 6 or newer. They both are interactive, will play full screen, and are easy to read, but the Full version has the rich media. I have found that 75 percent of users, when given the choice, will choose the Full version that includes the rich media. If visitors have a high-speed or broadband Internet connection, they usually will upgrade to the latest version of Reader just to watch the video in the Full version. They pay good money for the broadband connection and want to get value for their dollar.

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